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thank you for this opportunity to tell you exactly why the mayor's discretionary decision to suspend the sheriff was without basis in the law and why you must ultimately reinstate the sheriff. ross mirkarimi campaigned on the power of redemption. he's been a key proponent of restorative justice in this city. but there is no question that on december 31st, 2011, ross mirkarimi made a serious and terrible mistake. and how did he deal with that mistake? he immediately apologized to his wife. he entered into counseling. he apologized to the people of san francisco. he pled guilty to a criminal offense. all of that underscores the responsibility that rossq]j terrible mistake that he made on new
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year's eve last year. and as a result of that mistake, several months from his wife and son. he was suspended without pay, with no means to provide for hi family. his entire life's work was destroyed almost in an instant. he's beenwácf described by the r and the mayor's attorneys with the most inflammatory and prejudicial rhetoric, yet at the end of the day, the punishment does not fit theyxúw crime. this afternoon, i'm going to spend a fe7%g minutes telling u about why this case is different than every other case. i'm going to compare the?÷ mayos position to the position of the ethics commission, and then i'm going to turn it over to shepherd koppéqi who will tell u exactly why the conduct at issue here can never >hl#y official misconduct. first as to the historic nature of thisñ(xñ proceeding.
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for the projector. >> this is the first time that commission has ever made a recommendation to the board of supervisors regarding charter section it's the third time in the history of this city the board has ever been asked to decide o a mayor's suspension of an elected official. official misconduct. egan and -- two ross mirkarimi did not commit a time. like all of the cases ross misconduct while in office. theh committed official misconduct in what makes this unique is the
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mayoru;p has decided to suspend on nothing more than a office. not -- it's not simply a question of whether to uphold or even a decision of the mayor. ultimately you must decide the will of the voters. because you are confronted with the possibility of removing an official the highest levels of due process should apply. the mayor has argued the lowest level should apply. he's argued for the broadest definition, the lowest standard of proof. he's submitted evidence that the in the words was designed to poison -- but even with the preponderance of echedz, with the majority vote of eeghts, was
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the mayor successful saying ross committed misconduct. the answer was no. after countless hours of testimony ethics commission made seven findings of facts. of those seven findings, only four can be considered misconduct -- excuse me only three can be considered misconduct. allegations were rejected by thw the gun charges, the dissituation allegations, the abuse of officeú@s"t allegation, that'sounts 1, count 2, count unanimously rejected by the agents commission. close attention to count one course a part of this case. it's been made a key aspect of
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this case and the ethics commission unanimously rejected the domestic violence count in the case. what are we left with? what we've known all along. the sheriff wrongfully grabbed his wife and pled guilty to a misdemeanor the ethics commission did not sustain counts four and five but only official misconduct as reflected in counts four and five which is not the same as sustaining them. where does that leave us? on the one hand, there's a bright line rule articulated by chairperson hur. on the other hand there is a broad and ambiguous definition of official misconduct as articulated by attorneys for the mayor. where the bright line rule is narrow and clear, the broad rule is broad and ambiguous. where the bright line rule requires that the misconduct
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occur while performing duties of office or in relation or purporting to perform duties of office for the mayor it doesn't matter, if the conduct occurs while performing the duties of office or not. you can be on the job, off the job. it doesn't matter. it only matters if it falls below standard of decency which is a disetio discretionary decie mayor. bright line rule must occur while the individual is in office and that's what mazzola found as well. the ambiguous rule it doesn't matter if the person is in office or not. they can commit official misconduct whether in or out of office. what does this ultimately mean? for the bright line rule, for chairperson hur's rule, a mayor can only suspend an official from office for conduct that occurs during the performance of the official duties. for the mayor, the ambiguous
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rule of the mayor means a mayor can suspend an official for misconduct that occurs at any time, and in any context, personal or professional. now, the mayor asserts a new theory to you, today, that's an entire course of conduct theory. it's not just that you must sustain one charge here, or another charge here, two, or three. it's the entire course of conduct. but your task is much simpler than that. your task is whether or not to sustain the charges as drafted by the mayor. the ethics commission rejected the charges as drafted by the mayor. one voice the mayor does not want you to consider is that of eliana lopez. he never bothered to talk toám r and prefer that you ignore her too. the allegation that she recanted is flatly contradicted by$-k her own statements.
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mayor lee never bothered to speak with her. in the second instance, ms. lopez has never denied that sheriff mirkarimi grabbed her arm. the advocates have been months they too have never listened to ms. lopez. defending her have been attacking her. victim. she's not an immigrant who violence. wants nothing more than justice. she wants justice for her family and she wants justice for the people ofiélx san francisco. after five months of hearings, you're left with a recommendation that, on its face, acknowledges it is al big with us. the agents commission, the majority says there's room for disagreement. but most importantly, the commission did not recommend that ross mirkarimi be removed from office. they explicitly discussed making such a recommendation to you and
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they rejected it. ultimately you have to decide if the mayor and the four commissioners are correct, should san francisco adopt a broad and ambiguous definition of official misconduct that could encompass any bear the mayor deems to be indesent, or is it only a bright line of official misconduct can insure into process, avoid confusion, and avoid the possibility that some future mayor will be -- not by the rule of law but the temptation to remove a political adversary. removing an elected while not in office iscq.c4 not justice. if any case cry out for a bright line rule, for a clear and unambiguous application for the law to the fact it is this case. i will turn it over to shepherd kopp. thank you.
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>> president chiu: will remind members of the public, the first rule of this chamber is for members of the public not to express either applause or other statements. thank you. mr. kopp. >> thank you. good afternoon, members of the board, president. i'm shepherd kopp and along with mr. wagner i've been representing sheriff ross mirkarimi during these proargs. i want to discuss why we strongly believe that we don't need to draw from other jurisdictions as the mayor has, in order to arrive at a definition of official misconduct, that works in san francisco, and that is workable. and that has been tested. and the reason that we have come back time and again to the case involving commissioner mazzola is because, in that case, we saw
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board of supervisors sitting in judgment here, that undoubtedly thought they had made the correct decision, only to discover years later, after mr. mazzola was out of office, that they had decided incorrectly. now the reason that the court of appeal in mazzola was able to determine that official misconduct was not some vague, unconstitutional abstract notion is because there was a body of law that had been developed over the#r#pñ years. and every case that discussed official misconduct, the of their duties. and that's why the court of appeals will'a"dc say this is nt unconstitutionally vague, all at this definition. in fact, the amendment to the almost exclusively drewa5ñúz from the language that is included in the mazzola case. there was maybe one or two words
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thatzk9u" added. to this day. what does mazzola say.ns5 it says misconduct has to occur while the public official is in office. because a public official doesn't have any duties unless they are holding that office. and if they don't have any duties because they haven't taken an oath and been sworn in yet, then there is no way that any conduct of theirs can be related in any way to any of their duties. and that's the exact situation that you're faced with here. the mayor has conceded today that what we're really talking about is the acts on december 31 of last year, when the sheriff grabbed his wife with sufficient force to leave a bruise. which occurred, by agreement, eight days before he was sworn in as sheriff. on december 31, he had no duties
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as your sheriff. he could have spent the entire two month period, between being elected and being sworn in, on a desert island somewhere, relaxing, before he came and got to work. and people might criticize him if he did something, but you couldn't say, hey, we're going to remove you for official misconduct because you should have been getting ready to be mayor and that was a derision of your duty. the reason nobody would try to do that is because he had no official duties, he was not sheriff. now, the mayor's very good at trodding out a parade of horribles for you, designed to scare you into voting to support their charges, a law enforcement official, or a public official could rob banks on their way to their inauguration, and there's nothing that anybody could do about it. well, there's a couple of points that i'd like to make about
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that. number one is the charter of san francisco, while an admirable document, is not perfect. in fact, there's no provision in the charter that permits anyone to remove the mayor for official misconduct. the only way a mayor can be removed is by recall, or defeat in the next election. so the mayor could commit a first degree murder, and not be removable, unless the voters decide to take matters into their own hand and remove him. the mayor has also made the argument that this removal provision,ka@u 15.105, is a valuable, speedy and effective tool. and they want you to do the work, that the voters might have to do if they were to decide to launch a recall election. well the voters have decided to launch a recall election, thateñ issue would be decided next
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month. so their argument that this is procedure is not borne out byk5p the facts and the length that this entire proceeding has taken.nt7dñ now, the other problem with the[ mayor's position is that it does 9ñjs not give future office-holders any guide ns as to what is and what is not official misconduct for the sheriff or any other electedós)w official. the topic of a dui has already come up. elected official runs afoul of theeeñ campaign finance laws and doesn't file the reports on time or correctly and is subject to some kind of disciplinary proceeding by the fppc or any other body. would that constitute official misconduct? would it be official misconduct
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for the sheriff or members of the board? under the mayor's theory, i think just about anything, members of the board of supervisors might do, could be deemed to be official misconduct. what if you declared bankruptcy. you've made contracts with people and haven't paid them money you owe them. under the mayor's theory that could be official misconduct because you as a body promulgate the laws here. if you file your tax returns late, if you default on a loan, and some of the members of the board have already posed this question, we're certainly happy to engage in answering any questions you may have, but the problem with the mayor's position is that it is not a workable standard. and it doesn't have any support in the law. that's why, when they tell you that our position, that you have
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to be in office in order to commit official misconduct is unsupported, they have to go to other jurisdictions to try to get some case law to support their position. and we submit to you that you don't have to look any further than the the case law here in california, and it's right there on page 150 of the mazzola decision, wherein the court of appeals said there has to be a violation or omission of a proscribed act committed while in office. if you're not in office, you there's nothing to measure the conduct against. and so for those reasons, we urge that you vote to reinstate the sheriff. thank you. >> president chiu: thank you, mr. kopp. i know we have a number of questions to be posed. i will start things off, as i ask the mayor's counsel a number of questions to really understand the full extent of the arguments. first one i want to address the topic of timing. you say that by definition,
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official misconduct cannot occur until the swearing in of the sheriff. and as mr. kopp just referred to, in the mayor's papers, he wrote that if any public officer of any of us got reelected we could rob bangs, rob old ladies with impugnity and immunity. i did not hear from you that is the case, in other words we could do those things and should not be removed from office. >> no. actually, there's a provision of the charter that could lead to the removal ofdqç an elected official, and that is 15.105(c), which says that if a person is convicted of a felony crime that involves moral timing of the act that underlie the conviction don't matter. cause removal. so, for example, you commóhvz a
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heinous crime on your way to your inauguration you can be removed but it'srs going to presume that the criminal process is concluded before that can begin. >> president chiu: and÷e5%kg ifi understand, if the incident that happened on december 31, if it hads->r happened after january , didn't constitute official misconduct. >> correct. a bright line -- excuse me, there should be the bright line rule that official misconduct only exists when the individual is performing the duties of their office. and this is the view expressed by mr. hur, in the minority in the ethics commission. but that's the only way -- if you just hear the phrase, official misconduct, it sounds like you were using your office to do something or to not do something that you're required to do. and all the official misconduct cases in the history of
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california jurisprudence involve that exact same situation. it's designed to fetter out corruption in the public life of the official. and for personal misconduct that is not done in the performance of one's duties, there is a remedy and the remedy is recall. >> president chiu: so if i were to -- when i look at the findings of fact, the ethics commission unanimously found all five members found that the sheriff-elect committed acts of verbal and physical abuse against his wife, grabbed his wife with such force that her arm was bruised, restrained his wife and violated her personal liberty and then pled guilty to the crime of false imprisonment. what more would have had to occur for that to have risen to the level of official misconduct? >> number one, the acts of
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violence that you just mentioned would have to occur while he actually held the office of sheriff, which he did not. and, number two, these facts had nothing to do with the sheriff performing the duties of his office, which we take a very narrow view. the charter 6.105 says what the duties of the san francisco sheriff are and they're essentially to keep the jail and execute lawful orders of the court. and it's our position that everything else is a gloss on that. so our position is that in order to have official misconduct, you've got to be performing one of those duties that is delineated in the charter and do it improperly. otherwise it's not official misconduct. >> president chiu: if i could jump to that for a second so the standards for law enforcement and the sheriff obviously there's been an argument that for peace officers there's not much of an off duty protection
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for committing crimes. we have deputy sheriffs in this building andxdú throughout who could be terminated potentially for the type of conduct that was involved here. deputy sheriff could be held to one standard, why their boss, to a different one. >> i think this is where the will of the electorate comes into play here. there is a way forreú elected officials to be held to that same standard as theirå subordinates and that's through the recall or through the voters not reelecting them. historically, in the sheriff's department here in san francisco, individuals who crimes, manslaughter in onev instance, have held very high positions in the sheriff's department. >> president chiu: i have one mazzola case. my read in the mazzola case,#ísn that situation, it involved the conduct of an airport commissioner who had been aq÷pq labor leader who participated in
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a strike. and one thing that was stated in the case wasf thq a specific statutory violation is normally the basis for charging an official with misconduct. in that case mazzola didn't violate a statute that would give rice to official misconduct. here we have a different situation. we have a sheriff who has pled guilty to violating penel code 236. to me that seems like a fairly big difference between what happened with mazzola and what we have in front of us. could you address that point. >> thank you. i think the applicability of mazzola to these facts, that's exactly correct, that mazzola, there was no clear violation of a specific statute. but the part of mazzola that's relevant to this case is the part of mazzola that defines what does it mean for a conduct
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to be official. where the mayor says that mazzola is irrelevant because the voters 1995 amendment to the charter, the standards of decency, good faith and right action clause was not enacted at the time of the mazzola decision so mazzola is irrelevant the standard of decency clause controls here. the standards of decency clause is relevant to what kind of conduct is misconduct it is not relevant to what constitutes something that is official. as we know from mazzola what constitutes something that is official is what occurs in office while in office. yes, it's true that in this case we do have a violation of a specific statute that occurred prior to the sheriff being in office. however, as i understand it, the relevance of mazzola that is controlling here is not as to
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the decency clause but as to whether or not the sheriff's misconduct on new year's eve, 2011 was official and it was not, according to the clear bright line rule of mazzola. >> president chiu: thank you. supervisor wiener. >> supervisor wiener: thank you, mr. president. a few questions. first, has the sheriff takenn>ña position 15.105(e) is invalid vague? are you taking that position? i believe i read that you took that position(x in court. so my question is, is that your position? >> yes. that has been our(ytoú position. we don't intend to argue it. we submitted it. if i couldnr8íñ answer. we think in a situation like this, any time there's any ambiguitynljhc in a statute ito be resolved in the light most favorable to the sheriff. >> supervisor wiener: so if we -- if your position is -- or
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given your position that this provision is unconstitutional -- is unconstitutionally vague and therefore invalid, is it your position that we don't have the power to remove someone from office based on subsection e? >> yes. but we also are going to face the political reality that undoubtedly you're going to make a decision today. >> supervisor wiener: i understand. but your position is that no one can be removed under this section because the voters adopted an unconstitutional provision? >> i think that -- we don't think you need to come to that conclusion one way or the other, in order to find that the sheriff should not be removed from office. so, yes, it is our position that it's unconstitutional. however, i don't think that's germane necessarily to the question before you, in terms of applying the facts and the law here. >> supervisor wiener: well although if we were to say reject all of your other arguments, if the board were to
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do that, that would ultimately be the bedrock issue if you're taking the issue that we lack the power to do it because it's unconstitutional. so i guess my question is let's assume a different set of facts. let's assume the sheriff, after being sworn in, is in the jail one day and gets really mad at a prettprettya prisoner and beatst prisoner and commits a heinous act and let's assume there is not conviction. for whatever reason prosecution gets botched and so a conviction never occurs but we have a video of the sheriff with no provocation beating the heck out of a prisoner and doing something that i think most people would agree is a bad thing. could that -- could the sheriff be removable under subsession e, given that your position that it's unconstitutional and vague? >> absolutely. and the reason is, because it's
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not our position that the entire subsection e is unconstitutional. the clause in particular that we object to is the standard of decency good faith and right action clause that was added in 1995 and has been untested in the courts. there are other aspects of e, there are other clauses, the commissioner -- chairperson hur put before you the three different causes, and one's inaction, one's conduct, et cetera. under the other two, a clause is of subsection e, we believe that those are constitutional and would apply because they directly relate to the performance of official duties. >> supervisor wiener: so one can be removed under this section, it's your view this simply doesn't rise to that standard. >> yes, absolutely. >> supervisor wiener: i also -- in the briefing, and i think in sort of a lot of the 43ad:(esenting the sheriff in ts matter, there's been a lot of
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talk that this would give unprecedented power to the determinations, and it would just put the mayor really in thy driver's seat and just give undue power to the mayor. and although=wz÷ i understand super-officially that argument, the challenge i have with it isu that ultimately the mayor doesn't remove people from office, ultimately the board of supervisorcdyk removes or doesnt remove someone from office. yes, the mayor can suspend someone and they$-2ft don't getd and i'm not in any way understating the severity of discussion about whether the person should get paid once i think there's an argument there. not remove people from office and this board can't restrain with you here, never do this again. the mayor can do it in a year ia a similar situation happens. and so, you know,